Saturday night brought terror and death to the western coast of Ecuador, as a magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck less than 20 miles from the town of Muisne. At least 238 people were killed and more than 1500 others were injured. President Rafael Correa declared a state of emergency following the earthquake; 13,500 military personnel and police officers were dispatched for recovery operations.
At 23:58 UTC on April 16, a 7.8 earthquake struck the coast of Ecuador approximately 27 km (17 mi) south-southeast of Muisne, in the province of Esmeraldas, at a depth of 19.2 km (11.9 mi).
As of this writing there are 238 confirmed dead as a result of the quake. This makes it the deadliest earthquake in Ecuador since the 1987 Ecuador earthquakes.
Ecuador’s west coast forms a part of the massive network of tectonic zones and volcanic activity that geologists refer to as the Ring of Fire. Thus Ecuador, like the western United States and eastern Asia, is prone to high earthquake activity.
As with all such large-scale disasters, it is difficult to ascertain the status of Church of God World Missions personnel and facilities in the area as communications are hindered by loss of cellular and landline telephone services. Field Director David Ramirez and Regional Overseer Richar Mendoza are hard at work trying to make contact with churches and pastors in western Ecuador, as well as to coordinate disaster relief.
The region is without power, water, and most telephone service, and the estimates now stand at over 1,500 wounded and in need of medical supplies and attention, though that number is expected to climb. This earthquake comes on the heels of a seismic event in Japan that killed 41 people.